Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton. I’m not a dick, but I play one on TV…

the 8-bit bang theory by r. stevens

The first appearance of Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory is airing again tonight, so I thought I'd gather up all the posts I wrote while working on it in one place:

leveling up while geeking out on the set of the big bang theory

I remember being in drama school in my early twenties, and having at least a decade more experience than everyone else in the room except our teacher. I remember paying close attention all the time, even when I wasn't working on a scene in front of the class, or getting notes directly from her. I remember her telling the other kids in the school, many of whom were convinced that they were going to be The Next Big Thing (all of them except Salma Hyek were wrong) that they didn't learn anything about performing while they were actually doing it. They learned while watching other actors perform, and understanding why their choices worked or didn't work. 

I haven't done a show like this in years, and I want to make sure that I am completely back in shape, I guess you could say, by the time we perform the episode next week. To make sure I get there, I spent the entire day, even when I wasn't in the scene, watching and listening, and remembering skills that I once used every day, but haven't even thought about in a very long time. By the time we got to my last scene of the day (God, I wish I could describe it, because it's hilarious) I felt confident, I felt funny, and I felt weird but also good.

The Big Bang Buzz

Once we started rehearsing, I noticed something that had changed from yesterday's rehearsal: the script was just as funny, but it was more alive when we performed it. I guess that, having lived with the script for a full day and having run the scenes several times alone and together, those difficult-to-quantify things that make us actors (I guess we could call them "Dramachlorians") have started to do their thing. We're thinking about the scenes when we're not in them, we're hearing the characters in our heads, we're subconsciously applying the notes we got from the director yesterday, and what was a collection of notes and chords 24 hours ago is starting to turn into a piece of music.

unraveling the mystery

I can't get into any real specifics, because we've reached that point in the production where any new insights or revelations that have happened (and they have) are all related to things that would certainly qualify as spoilers, or are observations that I feel would be unprofessional to share without the explicit permission of my fellow actors.

However, during rehearsal, I got to watch them take something that was already very funny, and then try several different approaches to one particular bit, each one funnier than the last, until they settled on something that I know is going to kill when the audience sees it. You know you're working on a tremendously funny show when the stuff they throw away is funnier than the stuff that makes it on air on other shows. I also have a new appreciation for how perfectly the writers on The Big Bang Theory balance the extremely geeky jokes that guys like me go crazy for, with the non-geeky jokes that people like my wife enjoy. It's a lot harder than it sounds to gently push a time machine through the eye of the comedy needle every week without touching the sides and making that one dude's nose light up … which sounds kind of funny, but trust me, is not.

The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary

First of all, for anyone who is wondering, the show's art department made actual cards with actual graphics and rules on them, and we all spent a fair amount of time making up some logical rules to go with the Mystic Warlords of Ka'a. As far as I know, there aren't official rules or an official card set, but I'm sure someone will create one within a couple of weeks if the show doesn't. (Oh please, oh please.)

When he first talked to me about working on the show, Bill Prady told me that I'd be playing a "delightfully evil version" of myself. This sounded like a lot of fun to me, but it was more difficult to find that character than you'd think. When I'm playing Fawkes on The Guild it's easy to slip into his kilt and be a jerk, but wearing my own clothes and essentially playing a stylized version of myself made it a real challenge to hit "delightfully evil" without veering into "not committed to being delightfully evil" or "just plain evil." Keeping that twinkle in my eye, and knowing that Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Version) is planning to scam Sheldon from the moment he sits down, was essential to this particular characterization working out, and I didn't completely find it until we'd run the episode a couple of times.

During one of the run throughs, when Jim did his Klingon bit, I turned to Kevin and asked him, "Did he just say 'revenge is a dish best served cold' in Klingon?" like I was trying to figure out if that's actually what happened, like maybe I misunderstood him. Chuck Lorre told me that it would be funnier if I was more exasperated. "You're just here to play this game, and now some guy is quoting Klingon at you. This happens everywhere you go," he said. 

I sighed dramatically, and said, "Oh, it does." Everyone laughed, hard, and Chuck pointed his finger at me. "Yes. That is exactly the way to play that beat."

When Chuck gave me that note, I grokked how to play Evil Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory version), and I could see the comedy in every beat I played for the rest of the show.

Finally, I did a Q&A post about Creepy Candy Coating Corollary last month, before I knew I'd be returning to the show. You'll have to go through the comments to find the questions and my answers, but if you're interested in that sort of thing, I think you'll dig it. There is also a hilarious T-shirt in that link that you probably want to see, regardless.

Also, my second episode, which is titled The Wheaton Recurrence (!) airs April 12 on CBS. Tell all your friends, and that one guy up the street who washes his Camaro in jean shorts on his lawn every weekend … he needs friends.

71 thoughts on “Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton. I’m not a dick, but I play one on TV…”

  1. All the while I watched Voyager, I expected you to show up with the Traveler and take everyone home. Well, alternately, I expected you to be somewhere in the Maki as well. I thought you would show up in that storyline, and have always found that an odd unfinished feeling. That is why I was glad to find you online years ago. Looking forward to more of your great work.

  2. Missed you at ECCC, but as usual, the lines were BAD. Noticed the hockey jersey. Overheard that was because you lost a bet to Aaron. Get ahold of Aaron Douglas about the SciFi museum exhibit opening in October. it would be cool to get you in as a guest to that event. Can’t wait to see you next year. Also, Erin Grey told me that she’s hoping to bring Gil Gerard next year, so Buck Rogers will be in the house too… lol

  3. Honestly, any episode with a Mee-Maw/Moonpie reference is made of win.
    And sorry if this puts me on the Dark Side but I’m totally rooting for Sheldon’s sister to show for payback, not because she cares that Sheldon lost the game, but because she’s the kind that would defend a good Mee-Maw reference.

  4. Wil, we all know you are not a dick, If you were you wouldn’t be on here explaining the reason your not, you would say screw it who cares. If you were a dick you would show more displeasure in the situations No Wil I say that you are not a dick, but most Richards are Ha! To be an Evil Wil Wheaton you have to really play the part I just don’t see it YET!!!! But please don’t be a DICK with me! lmao

  5. weeee look at me, look at me! i’m on the teeveee!
    please, stop calling me a dick. you’re hurting my feelings.
    is it dusty in here? *sniff* i think *sniff* i got something in my eye. *sniff*

  6. They can only make a new Star Trek movie or show if they use absolutely NO FRAKING lens flares ever again. Star Fleet in JJ’s universe seems to think that lights burning out your retinas at every possible angle makes for great cinematography, when really it just results in migraines for the audience.

  7. How awesome that the title has your name in it!! I can’t wait for the episode to air! So glad that you are getting to be part of that amazing show.

  8. Hey Wil, I saw you mention in your Q&A that Kaley Cuoco is a “positively *brutal* ping pong player”. Who do you think would win between her and Robert Khoo?
    More importantly, can you make this happen?
    Side note, I am really sad I can’t make it to PAX-E, missing your keynote again, but that happens when living on the other side of the planet. PS come visit us here down under, we’re pretty awesome. Except the drop bears.

  9. Huh. On the previous Q&A I asked a question about what the BBT guys would have done on the off-chance you’d said “no” to the script; I know you answered, but I see now the whole thing has been deleted. :(

  10. I was so excited they played it. I thought the *new* episode was this week, and I ran to Blockbuster to try to find last year’s episode and they don’t even have a single dvd of BBT! (and CBS doesn’t put them online and Comcast doens’t have old ones).
    So now I have it recorded and locked from deletion on my dvr and going to make my girlfriend watch it before we watch the new episode :)
    Now I can’t wait.

  11. I’m listening to RFB 24… did you ever get into Battletech? I find the same things about Battletech that you say about W40K.
    My friends and I do nerdy things with our minis – like painting companies to look like xmen etc.

  12. Watched the episode again. Though we can quote it at this point. Saw you at ECCC. My son Keenan thinks you are the coolest guy ever. We met all the peeps at ECCC and you were the one to shake his hand and write a special note to him in his book. You also signed a photo for his teacher. It made him cry a bit. It was awesome of you to be so wonderful to him. We do everything as a family so it is great to see him so excited about someone that Mom and Dad think is so cool. We have our tickets for w00tstock and we are really hoping you will be at PAX Prime. I know you will be at East but you got to come back to Seattle for the special love you get here! Cheers!

  13. Every time you play an “evil” version of yourself or a dick or a serial killer or a whiny ensign, you go out of your way to explain that you are ACTING. You are not really an ass! Are we really to believe that Rob Reiner was the only director you ever worked for who cast the actor who was the most like the character they were playing?
    Do I really have to put a winky emoticon after that? Anyway, glad to see Evil Wil making another appearance on Big Bang Theory.

  14. @ Danyiel
    that’s funny, I was thinking the same thing about Riker’s poker face, AND Wil’s poker experience.
    Sheldon should have done more research on his nemisis.
    “Well played Wheaton. I’ll see you in HELL!”

  15. Wil,
    I watched the Big Bang Theory last night it was awesome. I love who ever antagonizes Sheldon. I hope you become more of a regular because you do fit right in. Big Bang theory is surprisingly creative to bring in both audiences that are science and non science. My mother is not a science person at all, but she loves watching it. But on the other hand, I tried to get her to watch the Guild and I can’t tell you how hard it is to explain the lingo of MMO’s when she doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer.
    As for the Guild, I love Fawkes as well. I am just wondering how much of a geek I am when I understand both shows. Well, I play WOW, and I have a B.S. in chemistry, but that besides the point.

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